Storage and export of microbial biomass across the western Greenland Ice Sheet

Irvine-Fynn, T. D. L.; Edwards, A.; Stevens, I. T.; Mitchell, A. C.; Bunting, P.; Box, J. E.; Cameron, K. A.; Cook, J. M.; Naegeli, K.; Rassner, S. M. E.; Ryan, J. C.; Stibal, M.; Williamson, C. J.; Hubbard, A. (2021). Storage and export of microbial biomass across the western Greenland Ice Sheet. Nature Communications, 12(1) Springer Nature 10.1038/s41467-021-24040-9

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The Greenland Ice Sheet harbours a wealth of microbial life, yet the total biomass stored or exported from its surface to downstream environments is unconstrained. Here, we quantify microbial abundance and cellular biomass flux within the near-surface weathering crust photic zone of the western sector of the ice sheet. Using groundwater techniques, we demonstrate that interstitial water flow is slow (~10−2 m d−1), while flow cytometry enumeration reveals this pathway delivers 5 × 108 cells m−2 d−1 to supraglacial streams, equivalent to a carbon flux up to 250 g km−2 d−1. We infer that cellular carbon accumulation in the weathering crust exceeds fluvial export, promoting biomass sequestration, enhanced carbon cycling, and biological albedo reduction. We estimate that up to 37 kg km−2 of cellular carbon is flushed from the weathering crust environment of the western Greenland Ice Sheet each summer, providing an appreciable flux to support heterotrophs and methanogenesis at the bed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Naegeli, Kathrin

Subjects:

900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

2041-1723

Publisher:

Springer Nature

Language:

English

Submitter:

Kathrin Naegeli

Date Deposited:

01 Jul 2021 09:09

Last Modified:

01 Jul 2021 09:17

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41467-021-24040-9

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/157161

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/157161

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